Following a technical glitch, an Air India flight bound for San Francisco was compelled to make an emergency landing in Russia on Tuesday.
According to a statement by the Tata Group-owned airline, Flight AI173 from Delhi was redirected to Magadan, Russia, due to an engine malfunction.
The flight, which carried 216 passengers and 16 crew members, successfully executed a safe emergency landing in Russia.
In response to the incident, Vedant Patel, Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department, acknowledged the emergency landing and assured that the situation is being closely monitored.
The exact number of US citizens on board at the time of the statement was not provided.
During his daily news conference, Patel stated, “We are aware of a flight bound for the US that had to make an emergency landing in Russia, and we are continuing to closely monitor the situation. I am unable to confirm the number of US citizens on board the flight at this time.”
Responding to a question, Patel stated that since the flight was destined for the United States, it is highly probable that there are American citizens among the passengers.
He mentioned that Air India has publicly announced their intention to dispatch a replacement aircraft to the original destination so that the passengers can continue their journey on the designated route.
However, Patel deferred to the airline for any additional details on the matter.
He stated, “Considering it was a flight bound for the United States, it is indeed likely that there are American citizens on board. According to information shared by Air India, they are sending a replacement aircraft to the destination to ensure the passengers can proceed with their planned route. For further updates, I would recommend reaching out to the airline directly.”
Air India issued a statement regarding the incident, expressing their gratitude for the cooperation and support received from local authorities in Russia following the emergency landing of the aircraft in Magadan.
#UPDATE — Air India Delhi-San Francisco flight diverted to Magadan, Russia on 6th June | A ferry flight is scheduled to operate to Magadan Airport in Russia from Mumbai at 1300 hours IST on 7th June, subject to necessary regulatory clearances, which would take passengers and… pic.twitter.com/HJiTFeAHqe
— ANI (@ANI) June 7, 2023
According to the statement, efforts were made to accommodate the passengers in local hotels with the assistance of the local government authorities. However, due to the limited infrastructure in the remote airport, all passengers were eventually transferred to temporary accommodation. Since Air India does not have staff based in the remote town or in Russia, they have been providing the best possible ground support to the passengers through constant communication with the Consulate General of India in Vladivostok, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), local ground handlers, and Russian authorities.
The statement also outlined the plans for a ferry flight scheduled to depart from Mumbai to Magadan on June 7, 2023, at 1300 hours IST, pending necessary regulatory clearances.
This ferry flight would transport the passengers and crew of AI173 to San Francisco, along with provisions such as food and other essentials. Air India expressed their concern for the well-being of the passengers and staff and assured that every effort is being made to operate the ferry flight at the earliest, prioritizing the health, safety, and security of everyone involved during the waiting period.